Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Not Addressing the Issue

Internet addiction is fast becoming a problem in China where there are 338 million people who surf the net, according to the China Internet Network Information Center last month.
Most of those addicted are boys and young men who spend hours on the Internet, mostly playing online games, watching movies and chatting with friends.
And as the majority of them are only children, the parents pretty much let them do whatever they want, or are too busy working to be able to buy whatever their son desires.
In the last year or so, camps trying to break the Internet addiction have sprung up, but one case earlier this week ended in tragedy.
A teenager who was sent by his parents to a boot camp to kick his Internet addiction in Guanxi Zhuang Autonomous Region died after he was allegedly beaten by one of the camp supervisors. 
Apparently the 16-year-old Deng Senshan was put into solitary confinement within hours of his arrival and was then beaten to death by his trainers after they scolded him for running too slowly.
"My son was very healthy and was not a criminal," says Deng Fei, the boy's father. "He just had an Internet addiction when I left him at the camp. The police informed us that our child had died on Monday morning. We can't believe our only son was beaten to death."
The teachers realized the boy had serious injuries and sent him to hospital three hours later where he died 10 minutes after arriving at the hospital.
It was the police who notified the boy's father of his son's death, who then rushed to the town. He also tried to call the camp officials who denied the beatings.
The camp's principal, surnamed Xia, denied Deng was beaten, and told the father that his son was sent to hospital because of a serious fever.
However, when the father went to the funeral parlour to identify his son's body, "blood was all over his face" and "wounds on his wrists were bruises from where he had been retrained by handcuffs."
"The teachers promised me they would not use any physical punishment on my son when I dropped him off," the father said. He had paid 7,000 RMB ($1,024) for four weeks of camp.
It is frightening for parents to have their child die a miserable death when all they wanted to do was to help him break a nasty habit. 
The story has brought attention the need to regulate these camps and to look at the qualifications of the staff. What exactly do these Internet addiction camps do? While encouraging kids to be more physically active instead of sitting in front of a computer all day is a good idea, allegedly beating them for not running faster is not exactly a good motivator.
There are also calls to look into the psychological treatment of young web users, who sometimes turn to the Internet because of loneliness. These kids -- the next generation -- need to be taught that real relationships and face-to-face interaction are most important, and that the Internet is a tool, not a companion.

1 comment:

ks said...

addiction to the internet is a universal problem, not just chinese alone. it has to do human nature. as with other addictions there is no one single good solution. education and psychological counseling are part of the answers.